Certain Hungarian foods have origins which we know very little about, yet they have still been ingrained in our memory for our entire lives. Specifically, the history of our foods is generally not very clear (which is why this column exists), but Nyírség dumpling soup (Nyírségi gombócleves) is a mystery even to food historians.
Translated by Tamás Vaski
Even the internet talks about it in an anecdotal manner, according to which a cooking team from Szabolcs prepared this dish for a world food exhibition in Brussels in 1958. It is also true the there is no sign or record of the dish from earlier, but it is continuously confirmed that it first became known in Hungary’s eastern region, as its name indicates. Following its trail, we can often come across it among restaurant recommendations, although the original version is becoming increasingly rare.
Canteens have “dumbed down” this dish as well (even though it does not always suit it so badly). Most commonly, a food delivery company will offer a version of Nyírség dumpling soup which excludes the traditional potato dumplings and ragout meat in favor of meat dumplings, which have made the dish’s preparation much simpler. It can be said that the original dish is slowly disappearing, diners may only meet with it on rare occasions in the restaurants of Eastern Hungary, all because of the aggressive expansion of the newer meat dumpling variation.
Nyírség Dumpling Soup
- 500 g calf thigh (or pork shoulder)
- 1 tablespoon cooking fat (or oil)
- 1 red onion
- 2 carrots
- 1 parsnip
- 200 g green peas
- 200 g Agaricus mushrooms
- 1 bundle of parsley
- 2 tablespoons flour
- 2 dl sour cream
For the dumplings:
- 200 g cooked potatoes
- 1 egg
- Flour (as much as the mix picks up)
Dice the red onion into small pieces and steam it on a minimal amount of cooking fat. Cut the meat into small cubes and throw it onto the onion. Let them cook for a little bit, then pour water over them, slightly more than enough to cover them. Steam them until they are semi-soft, then add the vegetables cut into small circles. Once these have also softened half way, add the chopped mushrooms and green peas.
While the meat and vegetables are cooking, prepare the potato dumplings. Break up the cooked potatoes, add the salt, then finely chop up some of the parsley, mixing it all together with just enough flour to create moldable, well-formable dumplings.
After this mix the 2 dl of sour cream with the 2 tablespoons of flour, and carefully pour it into the soup. Then add the dumplings as well.
Cook the dumplings. Once they are ready, garnish the soup with fresh parsley and serve it warm.
Photos and featured photo by Péter Csákvári/Hungary Today